Melo Group’s Square Station gets city commission approval

Renderings of Square Station
Renderings of Square Station

Despite negative recommendations from staff and the Miami Planning and Zoning Appeals Board, the city commission unanimously approved a zoning change that paves the way for The Melo Group’s Square Station project to move forward. City commissioners were swayed by the developers’ promise to set aside 96 apartments in two proposed residential towers for workforce housing.

“I want to thank you for taking it to this level and for the affordability of this project,” said Commissioner Ken Russell. “As we try to develop this neighborhood, we are prioritizing affordability.”

Melo spokesman Tadd Schwartz The Real Deal that setting aside 96 out of the 710 planned units was a “no-brainer.” In the last three years, Melo has built more than 1,200 market rate apartments in the urban core, Schwartz said.

“All the units are market rate,” Schwartz added. “Square Station will probably have some of the most affordable apartments on the rental market compared to the rest of downtown Miami.”

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In addition to the twin apartment towers, Square Station will also include 946 parking spaces and a 15,000-square-feet of commercial retail space including for a ground-floor restaurant. Rental rates start at about $1,600 for a one-bedroom unit to $2,500 for a three-bedroom apartment. The project is located at 47 Northeast 14th Street, adjacent to the Miami-Dade School Board Metromover Station.

“You can live there and pretty much not have to use your car,” Schwartz said. “You can walk to everything that is happening in downtown Miami.”

County records show Melo paid a combined $7.85 million for the roughly 1.37-acre development site in 2014.

The project moves forward despite the Planning and Zoning Department’s as well as the appeals board’s recommendations to deny Melo’s request to change the commercial zoning designation of the 1-plus acres in order to allow the developer to build up to 34 stories instead of 24 stories as currently allowed. A staff analysis claimed that approving the change would amount to “spot zoning.”

“The proposed rezoning would set a negative precedent by creating a domino effect in regards to future zoning change applications,” the analysis said.